Restaurants & Bars

Promising addition to Edmonton's West End: VIVO

Bob Mac | Aug 16, 201109:11 PM     12

My wife and I had dinner this evening at a relative newcomer (3 weeks?) to Edmonton's West End, more specifically the Hawksworth Centre located at 18352 Lessard Road.

Vivo is Italian with a difference which sets it apart from other community restaurants like Tasty Tomato, Piccolino's, Sorrentino's in Wolf Willow, Il Forno and the like. No "red sauce" to speak of but I will try the "braised lamb chianti ragu with semi sundried cherry tomatoes" over pappardelle on another visit. [$18/27 1/2/full orders]. No pizza per se but several flatbreads ranging from a Margherita at $12 to a Gamberetto featuring shrimp, provolone, garlic and olive oil at $19.

Many of the courses are served "family style" meant to be shared and the portions, many of which feature grilled chops and surprise, surprise in landlocked Edmonton fish and seafood. From our vantage point perched up at the cooking bar we watched the kitchen brigade grill Bistecca Fiorentina [$39/74], Lamb [$39/75] and what I ultimately ordered, a Swordfish steak served with grilled leeks and 1/2 pink grapefruit [$35]. Also available were chicken [$32], beef filet [$42/74], Salmon [$32] along with 2 mixed platters which are clearly directed toward the dining groups at $100 and $120 respectively.

My wife does not like fish but indulged my affinity for swordfish. It was significant grilled steak that remained moist and the accompanying grilled grapefruit was meant to be squeezed over it instead of lemon.

Before the fish we chose 2 items from the 8 options in the Antipasti list. A delicious Caprese salad [$16] and pan steamed clams with fennel, grapes in a prosecco broth [$15]. Both were very good and the Caprese in particular was, as it should be, all about the ingredients. The yellow, red, orange and other colored heirloom tomatoes were crisp and tasty accompanied by some very good buffalo mozzarella rather than a more "pedestrian" variation or boccocinni.

From the Primi Piatti section of the lobster and mixed mushroom risotto [$19/29] and pastas, we were persuaded by our server Corey (who we knew from Wildflower, Packrat and originally The Pointe out in Tofino's Wickaninnish Inn) to try their "take" on fettucini Alfredo which is something I would usually avoid. This was very good. Made without cream but with lots of cheese.

We had no room for coffees nor desserts. Our total bill came to about $135 before tip including a bottle of Pellegrino and 2 glasses of an interesting, spicy, tart and refreshing blend of merlot, cab and syrah from Bolgheri.

The room itself currently seats about 70 [a private dining room has yet to be completed]when you include the cooking bar and I think as well, the spaces at the the "real" bar which takes up one end of the room. It is a classy stylish restaurant but one where you will be comfortable dressed up or as in my case, not....ie... Summer shorts and a T-shirt. Hey at least they were clean! [grin]

Given the prices I quoted above I can understand that one might have the impression that this is an expensive "special occasion" restaurant but I think it will fill a less expensive niche as well for those evenings when one is interested in good food. I know I will be back to try their Zuppa di Pesce [$18] or the lamb ragu.

clams with fennel, grapes and a prosecco b

4208 Calgary Trail South, Edmonton, AB T6J 6Y8, CA

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